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Partitioning vegetation response to anthropogenic stress to develop multi-taxa wetland indicators

Johnston, C.A., Ghioca, D.M., Tulbure, M., Bedford, B.L., Bourdaghs, M., Frieswyk, C.B., Vaccaro, L. and Zedler, J.B. (2008) Partitioning vegetation response to anthropogenic stress to develop multi-taxa wetland indicators. Ecological Applications, 18 (4). pp. 983-1001.

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Emergent plants can be suitable indicators of anthropogenic stress in coastal wetlands if their responses to natural environmental variation can be parsed from their responses to human activities in and around wetlands. We used hierarchical partitioning to evaluate the independent influence of geomorphology, geography, and anthropogenic stress on common wetland plants of the U.S. Great Lakes coast and developed multi-taxa models indicating wetland condition. A seven-taxon model predicted condition relative to watershed-derived anthropogenic stress, and a four-taxon model predicted condition relative to within-wetland anthropogenic stressors that modified hydrology. The Great Lake on which the wetlands occurred explained an average of about half the variation in species cover, and subdividing the data by lake allowed us to remove that source of variation. We developed lake-specific multi-taxa models for all of the Great Lakes except Lake Ontario, which had no plant species with significant independent effects of anthropogenic stress. Plant responses were both positive (increasing cover with stress) and negative (decreasing cover with stress), and plant taxa incorporated into the lake-specific models differed by Great Lake. The resulting models require information on only a few taxa, rather than all plant species within a wetland, making them easier to implement than existing indicators.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Ecological Society of America
Copyright: © 2008 by the Ecological Society of America.
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